KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — High morale and unit cohesion are two things that can be a crucial part of a mission's success or failure.
For the Soldiers of 3rd platoon, 62nd Engineer Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, an active duty unit from Fort Carson, Colo., the unit's bond and spirits are consistently strong with each member of the platoon.
"We all get along great," said Pfc. Jonathan Harvey. "It really makes our job easier when everyone works together."
After nine months of deployment, and despite the daily threat of improvised explosive devices, precarious Afghan roadways, and harsh weather conditions, they haven't had to face any issues with morale in the unit.
For a bunch of guys spending nine months together, we haven't had any major problems with each other, said Harvey.
The Soldiers have been able to get along because of activities they do together with one being a ritual prayer that everyone takes part in, regardless of religion. Lead by Spc. Marcus Carloss, each Soldier takes the opportunity to participate.
"It started out as something my wife told me to do," said the Fayetteville, N.C. native. "So I figured, instead of praying by myself, I would include everybody. Everybody really likes it. It seems to build some really good unit cohesion."
For Carloss and the rest of the platoon, praying offered some spiritual relief, but they still needed activities to do after their missions finished.
Another group activity is hitting golf balls after they complete missions. The idea was thought up by one of the Soldiers, who then had family members send him golf balls, tees, and clubs.
Spc. Michael Sipes is one of the advocates of hitting golf balls after their missions are completed.
"It's fun to just get up there and hit around sometimes," said the native of Jordan, Minn. "I don't think any of us are any good, but we all love to do it."
For these troops, having good unit cohesion and high morale is important to their mission's success.
The unit's primary mission is route clearance in Afghanistan. The Soldiers can spend up to 14 hours a day tightly packed into their heavily armored IED-resistant vehicles together, averaging just two miles an hour for most of the way.
The Soldiers have to get along in those vehicles or it would be a very long day, said Harvey.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Spenser Bruning, a native of Seattle, Wash., and the unit's platoon leader, said he couldn't be happier with his men and the work they have been doing.
"They are a great group of guys," said Bruning. "I couldn't ask for a better group."
This work, Despite dangers, unit morale high in Kandahar, by PFC David Hauk, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.